After two years of Covid delays, the Garden DesignFest Organising Committee, from the three Rotary clubs of Kew, Brighton North and Central Melbourne, was finally able to put on display a range of gorgeous gardens over the past two weekends. And apart from the weather, everything went off without a hitch. We bravely embraced 21st Century technology, taking payments via Squares in all the gardens (thank you Rob for training a large number of technically challenged Rotarians from all three Rotary clubs). We watched the skies with trepidation leading up to the first weekend, with 13 gardens on display in Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula. But Saturday turned out to be a fine sunny day and on Sunday the storms stayed away until evening. The weather was less kind the next weekend for the 20 country gardens, with two gardens closed on the Sunday due to torrential rain the previous day. On Sunday morning in some gardens the rain lashed down, the winds howled and volunteers hung on to the shelters to prevent them from blowing away. Not surprisingly, attendance figures were less than expected in those gardens badly affected.

All the gardens on show were interesting, some were really impressive. A standout garden at 9 Barnsbury Road, Deepdene impressed by its sheer size, with huge old trees set around a magnificent old home. In Brighton, another historical garden at 23 Asling Street featured 100 year old trees and vegetables in gardens beds throughout. On the second weekend, the four gardens at Euroa were magnificent, exemplified by The Falls with its waterfall, enclosed espalier orchard and scenic lake. Garden DesignFest cannot happen without volunteers to organise the event, buy and sell raffle tickets and staff the gardens over the two weekends. I wish to acknowledge and thank all of you who helped, in particular those who accepted the added responsibility of being a Garden Captain.

Garden DesignFest has two key objectives – to give people the opportunity to look at wonderful gardens and, in the process, raise money for charity. Just seeing the smiling faces on visitors confirms success of the first objective. We are still in the process of finalising numbers prior to distributing funds, firstly two our headline charity Youth Suicide Awareness and then to the Rotary clubs. However, I am delighted to advise that over the two weekends Garden DesignFest raised, in total, over $100,000 for distribution to charities. 

Roger Thornton
Chair, GDFOC